Protest poetryLiterary figures unable to restrain themselves any longer ― have finally opposed the government’s proposals for merging and abolishing press rooms.
In a statement yesterday, the Korean Writers’ Association argued that shutting down press rooms and merging and abolishing briefing rooms could lead to a society that restricts information. “Contraction of the freedom of the press directly impacts the freedom of literature,” they claimed.
The government, however, is playing deaf. The same day, the cabinet decided to spend an initial sum of 5.54 billion won ($5.7 million) to merge and abolish briefing rooms and create an electronic briefing system.
The head of the Government Information Agency said that a company would be selected and construction would begin immediately. The president and his sidekicks are disgusting people here and abroad by going forward with something that everyone opposes.
Gavin O’Reilly, chairman of the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), and World Editors Forum (WEF) Chairman George Brock sent a letter to President Roh Moo-hyun two days ago, protesting against the Korean government’s reduction of press rooms and restrictions on reporting sources.
On June 1, the International Press Institute issued a statement of protest. Despite these complaints, the government is insisting that the action it is taking conforms with global standards. Even at yesterday’s cabinet meeting, President Roh strongly asserted that merging briefing rooms “does not in the least violate democratic principles” and that he is only trying to “put straight what does not agree with those principles.” Is he saying that there is a democratic principle and global standard that reputable international press organizations are oblivious of?
All presidential candidates except for the pro Rohs are criticizing the government’s irrationality. Therefore the merger and abolition of government press rooms are highly likely to be undone when the administration changes. In this sense, 5.5 billion won that has been made by the people’s sweat and toil is being spent in vain. This administration must one day bear responsibility for wasting hard-earned taxes. Does Roh think that the next session of the National Assembly will approve of money being poured into merging and abolishing press rooms?
It is not too late for the government to withdraw its proposals. We can well imagine why writers took up their pens to write a statement instead of a poem.